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Continue Job Search or Return to College?

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Ron Culp

Corporate executive turned agency guy.

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Q.  I have a major decision to make in the next month--grad school or continue my so-far unsuccessful job search.  I graduated in January and can get my grad degree in a little over a year, so perhaps the economy will improve further by then.  What do you recommend?  -LB

A.  Don't assume graduate school will increase your chances of landing a job next year.  You're not alone in weighing the decision to continue your education in pursuit of a master's degree.  Therefore, you will be entering the job market in a year or two with a record number of others who opted to return to college.  More alarming, the Wall Street Journal reports that a grad-school degree doesn't necessarily pay off in the job market.  According to the Journal, the jobless rate among individuals with master's degrees has risen to 4.2% vs. 2.9% in June 2007.  And the Journal indicates the average pay difference between bachelor's and master's degrees -- currently $7,954 a year -- will narrow as more qualified candidates accept lower-paying jobs. 

Syracuse University professor Bill Coplin recommends not using grad school as a place to wait out the current bad job market.  Coplin says, "Deciding to go to graduate school should be a business decision where the risks, costs and rewards of this significant investment in time and money are carefully considered."

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